Tag Archives: valley

Quartet of Geese

Quartet of Geese
Four closely-spaced Ross’s geese in flight above the California Central Valley.

Quartet of Geese. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Four closely-spaced Ross’s geese in flight above the California Central Valley.

This is a somewhat straightforward photograph of a small group of Ross’s geese in flight over California’s Central Valley. I made the photograph on a cold January morning back in 2013… which is the sort of thing you might find me doing on January mornings in just about any year.

I often try for some kind of landscape context with these bird photographs, or perhaps some unusual light or color or atmosphere. But this photograph is pretty straightforward — just four geese against the winter sky. One thing I like about it has to do with the positions of the four birds. You can press the shutter a whole lot of times as geese fly by before you get a photograph where four of the birds stand out this clearly and are this visible.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

Blog | About | Flickr | FacebookEmail

Links to Articles, Sales and Licensing, my Sierra Nevada Fall Color book, Contact Information.

Scroll down to leave a comment or question.


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Dissipating Sierra Storm, Evening

Dissipating Sierra Storm, Evening
Storm clouds dissipate in evening light, northern Yosemite backcountry.

Dissipating Sierra Storm, Evening. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Storm clouds dissipate in evening light, northern Yosemite backcountry.

This photograph is not just a picture — it evokes a whole series of pleasant associations going back decades. The location is a backcountry spot in northern Yosemite National Park that I visited a decade ago with a group of friends and photographers. I had walked into the backcountry to meet them on my own for a few years, and I did the same thing this time… but something changed. I was self-contained, carrying everything on my back, as I had done for decades, but they were supported by pack train. After our first night at a midway point on the trek to this spot, one of the group members said, “You know, Dan, we could see if there is room for your pack on one of the mules.” Stubborn as a mule myself, I declined. My friend persisted, “Maybe we could put part of your load on a mule.” I surrendered, turning over my canister of food. (After this I participated fully in these trips — yes, relying on mules, too.)

We ended up camped near the lake seen in this photograph. The group had developed loose rituals — up very early to photograph, usually alone, then back to camp for midday tasks and camaraderie. Late in the day we dispersed again into the surrounding terrain to photograph until dark. On this afternoon I did something that I always love in the Sierra — I headed off on my own to investigate some off-trail terrain. Eventually I found my way up some granite slabs and ledges to top out at the base of a high valley filled with talus. I made a few photographs and then started to work my way back down, pausing at this spot just before sunset and setting up to photograph dissipating clouds beyond distant peaks before descending in the gathering darkness to rejoin my friends in camp.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

Blog | About | Flickr | FacebookEmail

Links to Articles, Sales and Licensing, my Sierra Nevada Fall Color book, Contact Information.

Scroll down to leave a comment or question.


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Wetland Menagerie

Wetland Menagerie
A small collection of shallow water feeders in Central Valley wetlands.

Wetland Menagerie. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A small collection of shallow water feeders in Central Valley wetlands.

Today’s photograph is something that is a bit more of a record perhaps — a photograph of three sorts of wetland birds that are not among those that typically loom largest in our attention. The long-beaked birds at the left are white-fronted ibises. I think that the brown birds are teals — perhaps cinnamon teals? The taller black and white birds are black-necked stilts.

All of these are shallow-water feeders. The ibises and stilts give this away with their long legs and beaks, while the ducks dispense with the dignity that comes from standing erect and simply get up close and personal with the water and the muck beneath it. I’ve written before about how I came to photograph such critters not from an initial attraction to birds, but more to discovering them in the landscape. This leads to several aspects of my relationship to birds: I’m not an expert on them, and I’m still learning new things about them all the time. (This week’s new nugget is that there are “diving ducks” and “dabbling ducks.” Who knew?)


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

Blog | About | Flickr | FacebookEmail

Links to Articles, Sales and Licensing, my Sierra Nevada Fall Color book, Contact Information.

Scroll down to leave a comment or question.


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Sandhill Cranes, Winter Morning

Sandhill Cranes, Winter Morning
A large flock of sandhill cranes in a wetland pond on a winter morning.

Sandhill Cranes, Winter Morning. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A large flock of sandhill cranes in a wetland pond on a winter morning.

The routine on this (almost certainly ) final day of migratory bird photography for this season was much as it always is, though it started at an earlier hour to accommodate the late winter sunrise. Up at three-something AM and on the road after a quick cup of coffee, I arrived here before dawn. I was pleasantly surprised to find a bit of fog in the air as I began to look for a sunrise subject, and before long I found a very large group of sandhill cranes. When everything works out just right there is a short period of beautiful, warm light as the sun comes up, especially on a morning when a bit of fog or haze softens the light.

This group of cranes was part of an extremely large group of them — perhaps as many as I’ve seen at one time. They have a routine, too. At some point around sunrise they typically begin to take to the air in small groups and fly away, and that process began soon after I started to photograph them.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

Blog | About | Flickr | FacebookEmail

Links to Articles, Sales and Licensing, my Sierra Nevada Fall Color book, Contact Information.

Scroll down to leave a comment or question.


All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.